Better Health Network’s summit targets local clergy

Jermaine Bromell is the founder and CEO of Better Health Network. — TRIBUNE PHOTO BY MICHAEL ROBINSON

The Mayor’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, in partnership with Better Health Network, presents the Better Health Citywide Community Leaders Summit, Thursday, June 20, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., at Deliverance Evangelistic Church, 20th Street and Lehigh Avenue. More than 400 Philadelphia faith-based and community organization leaders are expected to attend. The event is free and open to the public; Independence Blue Cross is the official sponsor of the Summit.

“Independence Blue Cross is pleased to support the Better Health [Citywide Community Leaders] Summit,” said Paula Sunshine, vice president for Product Services at Independence Blue Cross.

This year, Independence Blue Cross is celebrating its 75th anniversary and is the leading health insurer in southeastern Pennsylvania. With their affiliates, Independence Blue Cross serves approximately seven million people nationwide, including 2.1 million in the local region, “we value the role Better Health Network is playing in the community and want to do our part to make sure [the Summit] is successful…Looking forward to an informative and engaging event on the 20th,” Sunshine said.

“Mayor’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives is serving as the partner and primary linkage to communities of faith and local government concerning the Summit. The Summit was encouraged and sought with the recognition that the Affordable Care Act will fundamentally change the character of health care and wellness in the nation,” said Malcolm Byrd, Director, Mayor’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives-City of Philadelphia.

According to Byrd, “MOFI works across government levels and social and community sectors to appropriately connect the faith community in a sustained way. We’ll continue to liaison with federal and state offices as needed… there are very significant and persistent chronic illnesses and health disparities having deleterious effects on the quality and length of life of many urban residents who have meaningful and long term mutually beneficial relationships with places of worship and faith leaders. These faith leaders are in strategic position and frequent access to those with such health disparities and they seek to be holistic in attending to both the spiritual and physical well being of those that they serve and fellowship with.”

Jermaine Bromell is the founder and CEO of Better Health Network and the organizer of the Summit. He said the network has several objectives.

“This is a critical event in the future of health care in our region. Better Health Network’s objective is to create clarity around the strategic short and long term direction of our health system. Better Health Network will be coordinating health insurance and provider access community outreach activity among faith-based institutions,” said Bromell,a member of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church.

For the Summit, Bromell has convened a luminary panel of top government/healthcare experts to discuss health and well-being issues and details and impact of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

The VIP panelists will include: Vincent Gordon, deputy secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare; Dr. Giridhar Mallya, M.D., health commissioner, city of Philadelphia; and Joanne Grossi, regional director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Grossi was appointed by the Obama Administration as the Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for Region III. Her territories include the states of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. Grossi serves as the key representative in this region in working with federal, state, local and tribal officials on a wide range of health and social services issues.

Commenting on her role in the Summit, Grossi said, “My role is that, I’m going to be making a presentation on the health insurance marketplace. And the marketplace is where people who are currently uninsured, or who buy their own private insurance, are going to go starting Oct. 1, to purchase healthcare insurance; coverage that’s going to start Jan. 1, 2014.”

“There are over 205,000 Philadelphians who don’t have health insurance currently. It’s a lot. In the state, there’s about 1.3 million Pennsylvanians who don’t have health insurance; again, over 205,000 here, just in the city of Philadelphia, who don’t have health insurance. And I think, clergy certainly have the relationship with their congregants and their parishioners — to know their people’s certain situation. [Clergy] know who don’t have health insurance, they know who are struggling, and so they are such a trusted resource in a community that we think it’s important for them to know this information, so that they in turn, can help the congregants, their parishioners get health insurance, that everybody has a right to — and needs.”

Bromell has lined up other VIP guest speakers for this summit including Laval Miller Wilson, executive director, Pennsylvania Law Project; Dr. Donee Patterson, M.D., community health educator and radio personality; Natalie Levkovich, executive director, Health Federation of Philadelphia; Curt Schroder, regional executive/senior vice president, Delaware Valley Health Council. The Summit moderator will be Dr. Gerald DeVaughn, M.D., cardiologist and president of the Medical Society of Eastern Pennsylvania. The Rev. Glen Spaulding, Senior Pastor of Deliverance Evangelistic Church, will provide closing remarks.

The Better Health Citywide Community Leaders Summit is free and open to the public, but anyone interested in attending must register online at http://www.bhnphilly.org/. For faith leaders who are interested in gaining more information about how to provide post-summit healthcare advocacy, contact the Mayor’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives at: (215) 686-3905.

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